Around the House — December 5, 2014 at 5:00 am

His and Hers Cooking

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©istockphoto/GMVozd

There’s corn starch and corn meal, baking powder and baking soda, white vinegar and wine vinegar, it all gets so confusing. Supper time is a whole lot easier when it starts with Hamburger Helper.

From Scratch
When she cooks, she improvises. She can take a pound of hamburger a leftover bag of pasta and some spices and make a masterpiece. If it doesn’t come in a box, a can or already warm, I’m in trouble. I can improvise too though; sometimes I use Italian sausage in my Hamburger Helper.

I’m Getting Better
She has taught me a lot. You can’t put everything on high and just walk away. That beeping sound is not an oven timer, it’s the smoke detector, and milk boiling over in a pot makes quite a mess. I’ve also learned that the broil setting in the oven is really a little much for warming a pizza and never, and I do mean never will I attempt to use a pressure cooker again. I have seen a whole chicken explode out of that little hole in the top and while it was pretty cool, the cleanup was an all-nighter.

Recipe for Disaster
I’ve yet to see a recipe, either in the newspaper or a magazine that doesn’t have at least one ingredient I’ve never heard of. Am I the only one who doesn’t have every spice known to man on hand? I saw one the other day requiring Fleur de Sel. Well, thanks to the internet I looked it up. You won’t believe this, it’s a rare salt, hand-harvested from pristine salt marshes in Brittany, France. Figures: only the French would have a salt that has to be “hand” harvested.

What a Mess
She actually leaves the kitchen cleaner than when she started. I’ve been known to trash the kitchen, sometimes even when I’m cooking. She cleans as she goes, where’s the fun in that? I feel I’ve completed a masterpiece when the oven is cooking, the sink is full and the counters are covered in corn starch, or meal, or whatever. You should see me make a pizza; there’s so much flour flung around you’d think it’s snowing inside.

She Has Spiced up My Life
Looking through our spice cabinet just now, we have: Morton’s salt, Pure Sea salt, Garlic salt and even Celery salt but no Fleur de Sel; going to have to get me some of that. We have lots of pepper and I love pepper. I prefer jalapeños, but we have Coarse Black, Ground Black, Fine Ground Malabar Black, Lemon, Crushed Red and Cayenne Pepper. We also have Whole Tellicherry Peppercorn which I believe goes in a grinder/shaker that we’ve used exactly once. We have all the leaves from Bay to Basil and all the seeds from Cumin to Fennel. When I was a bachelor I had salt and pepper. The salt wasn’t pure and the pepper wasn’t fine but life was much simpler then.

How Do You Define “From Scratch?”
I make a mean pizza from scratch. That is, if by scratch you mean Betty Crocker pizza crust, Prego sauce, and already grated mozzarella cheese. To me, if it doesn’t come straight from the box to the oven; I made it from scratch. To her, she actually starts with nothing and makes a scrumptious meal. To me, if you can’t wrap it in bacon or put a jalapeño pepper in it, it’s not worth cooking. Unfortunately for her, I seem to do most of the cooking lately; I wonder where I can order Hamburger Helper by the case?

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